So this showed up in my timeline this morning:

(I don’t usually check Twitter until later in the day– I reserve the mornings for more serious writing and thinking– but I was trying to track down someone, and was looking at a Twitter account with their name.)

That’s a nice way to start one’s week! And if the delivery comes in time, I’ll have a copy of the book to carry with me to Europe.

Nicole did a terrific job with the cover design (even coming up with an image that was more resonant than she could have known), and I’m really looking forward to seeing the book for real.

It’s interesting that a project that I’ve lived with for years feels “real”– or at least a different kind of real– the moment it’s bound and shipped, and escapes my control. (I had the same feeling with The Distraction Addiction.) I can talk about the book and promote it and encourage people to write reviews of it, but mine is now a representative or supporting role; from here on, the book gets to stand more on its own.

My desk at Newnham College

I’m still impressed at how publishing a book (or to a lesser degree, an article) feels like a slightly supernatural thing. A manuscript remains tentative and changeable and exploratory, no matter how long you work on it; a book, in contrast, transmutes the words and argument into something more final and definitive-feeling.

Two coffees

Of course, they’re the same words, and people will argue with them or praise them, but still, I’m struck by how I read my own words differently when they’re published.

I think it’s a bit like having children grow up: they’re still yours, but they’re more themselves, more independent, and they’re now going to have lives that unfold according to their own rules, following their own forces, and increasingly will diverge from your own. And on balance that’s good: with both people and book, you want them to be able to stand on their own, with our constantly having to defend them.

Fortunately it can happen a little faster with the books!